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False Alarms

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 29, 2015

False Alarms compares favourably with Chaplin’s The Fireman. Twenty years have passed, but this isn’t appreciatively less chaotic than the (way!) earlier production. Normally you’d think that film should be progressing—refining, tightening—in that amount of time. This isn’t normally.

Speaking of which, Larry’s hair nearly carry the day here, all by itself. Notice its super-abundance, there in the shower. There’s a great moment in which Moe pulls him back up that fireman’s pole by the hair alone.

The hose-cleaning sequence is a real classic. Curley shows that crafty comedian’s combination of apparent ineptitude and actual adeptness as he gathers and tosses and rolls the thing out and back. He is such a beautiful character. (Spongebob positive if you like, kids.) Always cheerful, always ready to forgive, or try again. It’s positively inspiring.

At one point Moe pokes Curly’s eye, right through the phone. The dropped-the-key sequence is very good, especially the cut that makes it look like Moe stuffed Larry down that drain. There’s a tremendous compound gag with a broken door, a slide across the floor, and a tumble to the floor below. It will require you to scramble for your remote control, and repeat it numerous times. Some serious head trauma here, or you’d think so if it weren’t for the sublimely obvious match cut, involving the dummy. You can see the joins, to put it mildly. We like to be picky about things like that. Shouldn’t be! This is a combination of modernism and the morality play. Of course it’s not real! It’s the real beneath the fake that counts.

In the same vein there’s a beautifully sustained bit of business with a great big cake. Unsurprisingly, it gets dropped, out a high window in fact. Curly beats it by running down the stairs really fast. Reprieve! Keep watching, though.

Minnie! Objectified? Humiliated? Her own undeniable, superb self? “Let’s go for a ride and eat things!”